By Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake
It is clear that C2 is a key element for shaping the way ahead for maritime operations. The U.S. Navy highlights the importance of distributed maritime operations as it reworks its way ahead with regard to 21st century deterrence and warfighting.
As Navy Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, Deputy CNO for Operations, Plans and Strategy, has put it: “DMO is a combination of distributed forces, integration of effects, and maneuver. DMO will enhance battle space awareness and influence; it will generate opportunities for naval forces to achieve surprise, to neutralize threats and to overwhelm the adversary; and it will impose operational dilemmas on the adversary.”
From the beginning, the stand up of Second Fleet has been built around C2 to enable DMO. In many ways, the standing up of Second Fleet in 2018, with Vice Admiral Lewis and had a seed corn staff, focused from the outset on C2, notably mission command. How to work tailored distributed task forces across the U.S. and allied fleets to get the kind of crisis management and combat effects crucial to North Atlantic defense?
From this point of view, the standup of Second Fleet can be looked at as a “startup firm” within the U.S Navy as it is the newest fleet in the force, and one birthed precisely as new concepts of operations and technologies were being prioritized by the leadership of the U.S Navy.
Mission command is as old as Lord Nelson, as a British Rear Admiral recently reminded us. But the challenge is that for the past twenty years, such command has been overshadowed by the OODLA loop. Observe, Orient, Decide, hand over to the lawyers and then Act. Obviously, such an approach when one needs to fight at the speed of light is a war loser
For the Second Fleet, a key part of shaping a way ahead with regard to C2 for a distributed maritime force is to enhance the capabilities for mobile command posts and to ensure that the right kind of command connectivity is generated.
When we visited 2nd Fleet this month, we talked to a number of members of C2F about the current exercise in mobile command posts underway. We will highlight what we learned in a later article.
But earlier stories released by C2F provided insights in how they were working the challenge.
For example, in a September 24, 2019 story about leading the force from Iceland, this is how distributed operations were described:
U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F) has temporarily established an expeditionary Maritime Operations Center (MOC) in Keflavik, Iceland, to provide the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) commander an additional ability to lead forces from a forward-operating location.
“I welcome C2F back to the European theater for the second time this year,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa. “The additive capacity that 2nd Fleet brings to the European theater when operating forward alongside U.S. 6th Fleet (C6F) contributes to the overall success of our naval forces’ ability to address challenges and threats to safety and security in the maritime domain.”
The expeditionary MOC, made up of approximately 30 members of C2F staff, has the ability to command and control forces, provide basic indicators and warnings for situational awareness, and is able to issue orders while maintaining reach-back capability to C2F’s headquarters in Norfolk, VA.
“Iceland is a key ally, and its strategic location in the North Atlantic provides a perfect opportunity to test out our expeditionary MOC for the first time,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet. “Operating out of Iceland reinforces our partnership while allowing us to practice operating in an expeditionary manner and test our ability to surge forward.”
The C2F expeditionary MOC is executing command and control of ships assigned to the recently deployed Surface Action Group (SAG), which is comprised of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), and USS Farragut (DDG 99), as well as embarked aircraft from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 72.
While in the Atlantic, the SAG is operating in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security, deter aggression, and defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.
C2F’s temporary operations out of Keflavik mark the second time the new fleet has operated at a forward location. C2F first demonstrated this expeditionary capability through command and control of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in June 2019, when the majority of its staff embarked USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20).
“Successful operations in the Arctic require practice, and we will take the lessons learned from this deployment to further refine the expeditionary MOC concept for future operations in the North Atlantic and Arctic regions,” said Capt. Chris Slattery, director, C2F expeditionary MOC.
The expeditionary MOC concept is scalable and temporary in nature. While the C2F expeditionary MOC is currently operating out of Iceland, there is no predetermined or permanent operating location in the European theater.
C2F exercises operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft, and landing forces on the East Coast and the Atlantic. When directed, C2F conducts exercises and operations within the U.S. European Command AOR as an expeditionary fleet, providing NAVEUR an additional maneuver arm to operate forces dynamically in theater.
And a February 26, 2020 story highlighted C2F commanding the force from Camp Lejeune:
U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F) has established an expeditionary Maritime Operations Center (MOC) at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
This expeditionary MOC, made up of approximately 30 members of C2F staff, has the ability to command and control forces, provide basic indicators and warnings for situational awareness, and be able to issue orders with a reach-back capability to C2F’s headquarters in Norfolk, Va.
Participating naval forces include the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which is comprised of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided missile cruisers, USS San Jacinto (CG 56), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), and the guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55), USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), USS Truxton (DDG 103), and more than 6,000 Sailors all stationed a Naval Station Norfolk.
“Camp Lejeune is the ideal location for Navy-Marine Corps integration opportunities,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander U.S. Second Fleet. “For the purpose of this expeditionary MOC, our USMC counterparts are providing C2F with the supplies and equipment essential to the successful execution of this exercise.”
In CNO’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0, C2F was tasked to be expeditionary— whether from a maritime platform or an austere location. Regularly operating C2F’s expeditionary capability ensures our ability to respond expeditiously and proficiently when called upon.
Maintaining and expanding upon the ability to command and control forces away from headquarters is central to C2F‘s employment of forces in the Atlantic. During this iteration of the expeditionary MOC, II Marine Expeditionary Force assisted with infrastructure development. Both C2F and II MEF will draw lessons learned from this operation to inform future employment of an integrated command and control center in the future.
“We are implementing lessons learned from previous expeditionary MOC operations which will directly influence the way we employ naval forces at the operational level going forward,” said Capt. Craig Bangor, Second Fleet MOC director. “To accomplish our assigned mission this time, we have included intelligence, logistic, cyber, information, and maritime operations and planning capability organic to the expeditionary MOC. While the team in Norfolk is leading and planning for a wide array of operations, our team in Camp Lejeune is solely focusing on the employment of the Eisenhower Strike Group as it crosses the Atlantic utilizing the expeditionary MOC capabilities.”
The expeditionary MOC concept is scalable and temporary in nature, and the iteration in Lejeune marks the third for C2F sing it’s establishment in August, 2018. C2F first demonstrated this expeditionary capability through command and control of Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in June 2019 when the majority of staff embarked aboard USS Mount Whitney. Most recently, C2F employed a forward deployed expeditionary MOC in Keflavik Air Base, Iceland.
C2F exercises operational authorities over assigned ships, aircraft, and landing forces on the East Coast and the Atlantic.
And this focus upon C2 has meant that Vice Admiral Lewis can approach both his U.S. Navy and NATO commands with a similar re-working of C2 which is, in itself, a key driver for change.
The featured photo: ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 16, 2019) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), front, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, USS Farragut (DDG 99), left, USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), right, and USS Lassen (DDG 82), back, steam in formation during a Photo Exercise Sept. 16, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael H. Lehman/Released)